Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Bowled Over by the Brooklyn Brewery

And for the gambling, beer drinking fools we are, we wagered the last bit of our MetroCards on a trip out to Williamsburg (take the L to Bedford Ave. station in Brooklyn) for a chance to finally get in and visit the Brooklyn Brewery.

A visit often attempted, finally achieved.

Brooklyn Brewery is located just a few blocks away from the Bedford Ave. station. It's an easy five to ten minute walk. If you stroll down Beforde Avenue to 11th St, you'll get a little feeling for the downtown area of Williamsburg which is only a few blocks long and wide and is an urban delight containing an assortment of eclectic shops, bars, clubs, eateries, and such. 11th St. has a few bars but it's mostly residential and light industrial/artistic. (Hey, I wouldn't mind living there!)

When we arrived at the brewery, it had not yet opened so we passed the brewery (!) and stopped in at Brooklyn Bowl to check out the lanes and enjoy a quick beer before heading over to the brewery. (Brooklyn Bowl is attached to the side of the brewery and the entrance is on Wythe Avenue.)

If you haven't been to Brooklyn Bowl, imagine this:

Take one bowling alley, insert a large bar, swirl in some great LOCAL beers (natch), dash some super gastropub fare on the side, stuff some leather couches behind the lanes to set the mood for proper relaxed bowling, and jam live music almost every night of the week from a great stage out across a big dance-floor and at other times just play great rock music over an always-on sound system!

What a hoot! Does it really get any better than that?

We loved the bowling alley vibe so much we stayed for two or three beers. We definitely stayed local and enjoyed the hellaciously Deeeeeelicious! Brooklyn Blast! double IPA from the Brewer's Reserve series and a Kelso of Brooklyn India Pale Ale. Kelso of Brooklyn is a local brewery located out in Greenpoint that you might not have heard about, but their beer is dang good. Plus, they're as conscious about the environment as they are their beer, which is always a good thing in my book.

We even had the wherewithal to get an order of fries and smoked wings that were just plain awesome. This all enlivened our temperament and we even bowled a couple of games to boot!

After a few hours of hilarity rolling sub-75 games, we staggered out into the sunlight and headed back towards the subway station and voila! ran smack-dab into a Brooklyn Brewery tour which was, you guessed it: just starting.

Brooklyn has a long history in brewing due to the large population of German immigrants and at one time had nearly 50 breweries producing beer for city workers and citizens. Eventually the number dwindled to zero as a result of prohibition and the acceptance of mass-marketed beer from the Midwest. Brewing's rebirth in Brooklyn began in the 1996 with the opening of Brooklyn Brewery.

Inside on the tour you'll find some nice visuals arrayed around some fermentation tanks and a bottling station. A fellow from the brewery gives a little history about the brewery and tells a few stories. Did you know that their logo was designed by the same guy who did the I Heart NY logo? His fee: free beer for life! And another about what it took to do business in Brooklyn back in the day when the brewery was founded. Can you say, um, payoffs? The fellow also detailed an extensive brewery expansion that is underway.

It seems they can't keep up with demand.

And what a problem to have, no?

Unfortunately you're quite limited in where you're allowed to go on the tour, but afterwards you can ease the pain by purchasing some wooden tokens for four bucks with which you can trade for a beer back in the indoor beer garden. There isn't any food offered in there but order-ins are more than welcome.

The beer garden was crowded when we finally got in about 4 pm with perhaps 200 happy-go-luckies all there for the same reason. There was a lot of preaching to the choir goin' on, I'm here to tell you. J tells me it's always like that. The garden seats maybe 200 and there's standing room for lots more.

The brewery tour is free and they offer it on Saturday and Sunday afternoons. Check the web-site for specifics before you trek out there.

(Sidebar 1: I met C who developed the Brooklyn Bowl concept at Mugs Ale House a few years back on our first Brooklyn pub crawl. My interest was piqued then by his passionate description of the venue which actually turned out far superior in fruition. Congratulations, C! Next time we're out, let's get back to Mugs for a couple.)

(Sidebar 2: Note to Self: Gee, we have to do another pub crawl again. Soon. Haven't crawled in Philly in a while. Hmm...)

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